Wed, Oct 30, 2013.
It's always a good moment when we welcome another artist into the recording scene in the province. That's the calling card, after all. Most musicians make their name and the bulk of their income on the performing side these days, but it's the recorded songs, whether on-line or on disc, that get around, get sent outside the area, and give them airplay and a name. And if you talk to most of them, it's their goal, to have made their songs into recordings, that's when they feel they are doing this for real.
Jessy Ashfield's no newcomer to performing, at least. The Fredericton singer, writer and piano player has been a solo artist the past couple of years, and before that, was playing keyboards in the Jacyln Reinhart Band. In the spring of 2012, she decided to leave that group on friendly terms, as it was time to work on her own material and music career. She'd been writing for awhile, having done demo recordings back in 2007, and had used them to gain solo gigs in the past. It was time to do more, and even go back to some of those songs, and polish them up for a full release. Which takes us to today. This is the very day the CD's have arrived, all nice and shiny, a proud day, Jessy's even posted a picture on Facebook, with the freshly-opened box. Good timing too, as tonight the collection, called What We Leave Behind, gets its official release at her launch party and concert in Fredericton.
What We Leave Behind is made up of six songs, Jessy is calling it an E.P., but they are all either five or six minutes-plus, so it's 35 minutes long, easily the length of many full albums. It opens with Step Back, which goes back to that early demo tape, and features six original compositions. Ashfield writes on piano, and that's the dominate instrument here, although each number is fleshed out with a small band. Her main musical partner is guitar player Camilo V., who adds tasty fills to each number, electric on the big ones, acoustic on the softer numbers. Another major part of the sound comes from cello player Lucas Bailey, who puts a lot of the mood into the softer numbers.
It's always refreshing to hear songs built around piano chords, and somewhat rare these days too, everything's built on beats or guitars. I find it opens up the melodies, and Ashfield's songs are very tuneful, lots of notes and beauty coming at you. This lets her add lovely harmonies with singer Kelly Waterhouse, it lets Camilo's solos sing, and the piano rings throughout. These aren't busy recordings, the music does the talking, and its easy on the ears.
So, onto the album launch tonight. It's at Dolan's Pub in Fredericton, an early show, it starts around 7:30.. with me! I'm going to MC the affair, and have a brief interview with Jessy about her music at the start, not too long, I promise, we don't want to wear out her voice before she sings. Then she'll bring on the band and go for it, playing the new album live. Five bucks gets you in, fifteen will get you in and get you a CD too.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).